Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Writing sales copy is hard work.
Sure, you’re done with your first draft. But it represents so much effort:
- You’ve researched your customers’ pain points, reading survey data and online forums.
- You’ve found great testimonials and social proof from customers who know and love you.
- You’ve worked and reworked a clear and compelling one-liner that clearly states how your product or service helps your customers.
- You’ve translated all your features into benefits, showing not just what you offer but also how those features help your customers.
- You’ve addressed all the major reasons people bring up for why they didn’t buy.
- You’ve done the nitty gritty work of writing — crafting vivid stories, intriguing bullet points, and eye-catching headlines.
After ALL that, you need a donut and a nice long hug.
But here’s the bad news…
You’re not done yet.
Here’s the final step that will turn good sales copy into great sales copy. If you skip it, you miss out on a huge piece of your own success.
Sales writing, like any other kind of writing, needs strong, precise editing.
To make it easier, go through this five-step editing process to make your sales copy shine.
1. Trim It By 15%
How long is your copy? Start by using your word processor’s word count tool to get an overall total. Next, you’ll need your awesome 9th grade math skills to figure out what 85% of that amount is. Boom, that’s your new goal.
For example, if my first draft is 2,564 words, my goal is to edit it down to about 2,179.
Of course, the enemy here isn’t necessarily length.
(As Jeff Walker said in our podcast recently, “your sales copy can never be too long. It can only be too boring.”)
The enemy is fluff: Tangents you don’t need to take. Features you don’t need to mention. Detailed company history that no one cares about. Unnecessary words that keep your sentences from being punchy.
That’s the stuff you’re out to find and cut. If you’re having trouble scrapping the sentences you worked so hard on, just pretend someone else wrote it.
2. Check For Variety.
Now that we’ve got the fluff out of the way, it’s time to take a quick 10,000-foot view of the overall structure.
Readers are going to scan your copy before they read it. By using variety, you’ll help them quickly see that your message is relevant to them.
Chances are, your sales copy offers a mix of content styles:
- -> Short content: bullets, short testimonials, feature lists
- -> Longer content: personal narratives, stories, descriptions
Analyze the flow of your copy to make sure you’re mixing up the different styles of content and not repeating them. In other words, don’t put those lengthy product descriptions after your personal narrative. Follow it up with that punchy feature list instead.
3. Read Every Word Out Loud.
This is when your dog looks at you like a crazy person, but I promise it’s worth it.
Reading your sales copy aloud is going to reveal several things to you:
• Awkward or unclear sentences
You’ll instantly spot the phrases you need to rework because they’ll be cumbersome to read.
• Overused words
All of us have pet words we use too much. If you don’t already know yours, you will after a read-through.
When we read silently, our brains can easily fill in missing words for us. Reading aloud slows you down and forces you to go word-by-word. It’s the surest way (other than hiring a professional proofreader) to get your copy clean.
• Stiff language
Most of us get weird when we write and try to make ourselves sound too smart. But good sales writing feels natural and conversational. By saying it out loud, you’ll easily spot formal or promotional-sounding sentences that would feel out of place in a chat with a friend.
4. Spend 5 Minutes on Each Headline
Your headlines are basically an “ad” for the copy that follows. Even the best copy in the world won’t work for you if you’ve got a lackluster headline leading into it.
We’ve talked before about how to write headlines people can’t ignore.
Now’s your chance to show off what you’ve learned.
For each headline in your sales copy, set a timer for five minutes and write as many options as you can for it. This will force you to explore more angles and find the very best one to introduce your copy.
5. Add Rhythm and Poetry
My wife Betsy made lasagna the other night. It came out of the oven all brown, bubbly, cheesy, and wonderful. It looked goooood. But then she sprinkled some freshly chopped parsley on top. And then suddenly it looked amazing and too good to eat although of course I still did.
To go from good to great, garnish your copy with a little creative flourish. We do this by adding rhythm and poetry to our words.
Here’s a great example from Southwest:
In this headline alone, they’ve done a couple of nice things.
First, there’s the cheeky play on words with “Sale Yeah.”
Then, they’ve used repeated sounds to make the subhead more memorable: Say yes to getaways with no gotchas.
Remember, a little garnish goes a lot way. And too much will make your writing sound forced and muddled. So proceed with caution. And when in doubt, stick to simple, clear language.
I’ll be the first to admit that editing can feel like a chore. But with this list at your side, it’ll be easier for you to make smart edits that improve your sales copy. If you’re still not convinced, let me remind you of what writer Patricia Fuller says:
“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”
So let’s not do that, okay? Hope this list helps, and happy editing!
This article first appeared in www.buildingastorybrand.com